Trade bodies call off merger talks

12 March 2015

Merger talks between the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) and the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) have been called off but the latter organisation has said it will continue with plans to launch a new trade body, the Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI) later this year.

The BWF said that after a series of “very detailed meetings at which fundamental issues on next steps could not be agreed” it was decided to suspend further talks.

In a statement issued to its 700 member firms today, the BWF’s president, David Pattenden said the BWF “still believed” in the principles behind the proposals to create a “strong industry body” to lobby on timber issues, but added that “ultimately” the proposals could not meet the agenda of the two organisations in a “realistic timeframe”.

“Obviously, we are disappointed,” said Iain McIlwee, the BWF’s chief executive. “The prize of a joined up voice for timber is great. But it cannot be at any cost. Serving the day-to-day needs of the members is our first and unwavering responsibility. A modern trade body must harness the industry’s expertise and energy, and this is where any activity must start, a bottom-up approach that is member-led.

“The BWF has grown by about 50% over the last three years and growth continues. We have great supply chain partnerships, and we have led the way in areas such as the education and skills agenda, timber product quality and third party certification, and essential research on life cycle analysis. I am very proud that these tangible strengths, and the service-led culture of the BWF, has been apparent throughout this whole process.

“We had a good and committed group of members leading this who really left no stone unturned. The steering committee appointed by the BWF was resolute in protecting the interests of members and will continue to look at opportunities, such as through our support for Wood for Good and the great work they are doing on all of our behalf, to develop a stronger macro voice on timber issues.”

In a statement on the TTF’s website, the organisation’s president, Stephen King said: “The formation of CTI has been timed to coincide with the creation of a new political landscape following the General Election on 7th May. Having considered all the views and longer term implications for the industry supply chain, our governing board has concluded that there is sufficient support across the chain, and from wider stakeholders, to launch CTI on 10th June without the need to merge the organisational activities of TTF and BWF into one entity. Discussions relating to the merger between TTF and BWF have now been suspended and all energy is focussed on the launch and development of CTI.

“This has many advantages going forward as we will establish an independent confederation that is open to all other associations to join. This will mean that we are able to work through committees and forums, as well as benefit from the expertise of companies and other trade association members, with similar concerns and interests. This will allow CTI to develop through industry wide organisations, boards and alliances. It will also ensure that CTI can effectively support and lobby government, public bodies in the UK and abroad and build the networks vital to the integration of information and data. This is critical to help our industry grow and compete on more equal terms with other sectors such as steel, cement, glass and plastics.”

King added that plans will “move ahead” to recruit a new chief executive and representative board to lead the CTI.